Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a $7 million project to reconfigure ramps near the southern end of the West Shore Expressway in Staten Island, which will significantly reduce congestion and improve access to neighborhoods and businesses. The project, which is scheduled to start later this spring, will remove an existing ramp and construct two new ramps along Veterans Road West.
"New York cannot be a center of commerce if our roads are centers of congestion," Governor Cuomo said. "Reducing traffic congestion on the West Shore Expressway, a major artery for Staten Island residents and business, will be good for commuters, good for business, and good for our environment."
The project involves the removal of the on ramp from Veterans Road West at Woodrow Road to the West Shore Expressway southbound. In addition, two new ramps will be constructed: one from Veterans Road West at Bloomingdale Road to the West Shore Expressway southbound, and one from the West Shore Expressway Southbound to Veterans Road West at Englewood Avenue.
The new ramps will improve traffic flow and help relieve congestion on the Expressway and local streets, as well as provide commuters with better access to neighborhoods in Tottenville and the Bricktown Center in Charleston, while avoiding traffic heading toward the Outerbridge Crossing. The new configuration will eliminate lane shifts to avoid traffic entering and exiting the highway, which will also improve traffic to the Outerbridge Crossing. The project will not prevent future development of the service roads, and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has made a commitment for future completion of the service road north of the new ramp, just south of the Lowes property.
NYSDOT has accepted bids from 12 construction companies for the WSE ramp work and expects to award the contract by April 1, with construction starting soon afterwards. The project is scheduled to be completed by Spring of 2015.
As an additional part of the project, NYSDOT will be replanting 340 trees and 100 bushes that were removed to comply with federal regulations designed to protect the endangered northern long-eared bat. Clusters of trees are considered a potential summertime bat habitat, and clearing the trees now ensures that if bats were to nest in these trees, they would not be harmed during construction.
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said, "This project will provide immediate benefits to Staten Islanders, relieving a known bottleneck and improving traffic flow for commuters and businesses. Thanks to Governor Cuomo's leadership, we are able to quickly implement this project at a reasonable cost to benefit all users of the highway, while allowing for future economic growth."
Senator Andrew Lanza said, "Today's news means that we move closer to a more accessible and comprehensive traffic solution at the West Shore Expressway. Residents will have more direct access to and from retail establishments, removing excess vehicles from local roadways. I particularly appreciate NYSDOT's commitment to undertaking the planning needed to ultimately build out the adjacent service road."
Assemblyman Joseph Borelli said, "This is a solid project that will increase access and egress along the Arthur Kill Corridor. We know there will be development in Charleston and at the former prison site, and I am glad to see NYSDOT getting ahead of the curve. Most importantly, this project comes with a commitment to build the adjacent service roads on the southern portion of the West Shore. This is a true victory for Staten Island and will prepare us for future transportation needs."
Staten Island Borough President James S. Oddo said, "In February, I met with Commissioner McDonald and her staff at Borough Hall and I appreciate the level of cooperation they have demonstrated. These new ramps are great news for Staten Island drivers. They will improve the flow of traffic on the West Shore Expressway and provide additional, much-needed access to neighborhoods on the South Shore. In addition, I look forward to continuing to work with NYSDOT, Councilman Vincent Ignizio and the State Delegation in navigating the environmental review process so that we can make the service road extension a reality."
New York City Council Minority Leader Vincent Ignizio said, "Having the west shore expressway entrance ramp at Bloomingdale road will service the current and developing commercial establishments in the area while providing local residents with a roadway system that works better for the community. We are also seeing the beginning of the service road extension, a project that will take a longer environmental review, but one that begins now and will run concurrently with the aforementioned construction. I want to thank Gov. Cuomo and NYSDOT for making this a priority and having this project start immediately."
Several transportation improvements will be occurring in Staten Island this year. This summer, NYSDOT will continue to progress its Staten Island Expressway BUS/HOV extension project, widening it to extend the BUS/HOV lane two miles and provide auxiliary lanes and shoulders. Other projects include the removal of the abandoned Richmond Parkway Interchange, placement of noise walls, pavement resurfacing, and replacement of the bridges at Fingerboard Road, Slosson Avenue and Manor Road, and installation of new drainage, lighting, signing, and striping.
The Port Authority will continue working on the Bayonne Bridge replacement and the Goethals Bridge projects. The Verrazano Bridge project advanced by the MTA will also be under construction this summer.